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  • Debra McInvale

Do Talk to Strangers

A Legacy of Caring

[Todays post is #2 in the series on “heritage” – what we have inherited from our predecessors and what legacy we might pass on to those whose lives we touch. In each post, I am sharing family memories that have had a lasting impression for me.]

Hand Painted Porcelain Tray by Carrie Jim O'Neal

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4 ESV

My grandmother Jim had a knack for connecting with strangers. She could rest on a mall bench, strike up a conversation with her bench mate, and discover a tenth cousin twice removed or the next-door-neighbor to her hairdresser’s daughter. It never failed! And we always laughed at her about it.

My Grandmother, Carrie Jim O'Neal


Now, I enjoy connecting too. There is something that feels right about connecting hearts and minds, about sharing, in chance meetings. You never know when you will have an opportunity to offer encouragement, or when encouragement could be offered to you. You never know when you may be an answer to someone’s prayer. And the serendipity of potentially making a new friend could be a Holy Hug from God. Just sayin.

A woman passed me one day as I was leaving an art supply store. For a quick moment, she paused to see me. And in one sentence, she blessed me with a simple compliment: “You look pretty today!” Actually, that day I felt like a fully discouraged frump. But, in the blink of an eye, her volunteered kindness made a huge difference in my day. The value of simple encouragement can never be underestimated.

Some time ago, my friend Pat encountered a young woman, paused and saw her. Pat obviously had received a holy prod to stop and chat, even if she didn’t realize it at the time. The young woman, we will call her Sue, desperately needed someone to see her in that exact moment. She eventually confessed to Pat that she was on the verge of suicide. Pat’s compassion and invitation to visit our Bible study group somehow helped Sue stay her hand that day and brought her us. We welcomed her with open arms and concrete support. When Sue moved away some months later, I am confident she left us with a stronger spirit and renewed hope. Pat’s pause was the answer to Sue’s prayer.

A chance encounter - in the middle of a street during a crowded craft fair – introduced me to two sisters, Jeanne and Edwina. We ended up painting and traveling together for years after. Treasured friendships were discovered in that unexpected meeting. Friendships are ongoing Holy Hugs!

Personally, I confess, I have missed countless opportunities to demonstrate a legacy of caring. My momma always told me that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Well, I am thankful that God looks at our hearts and not just our omissions. I intend to be caring BUT – I’m too busy. I have a long to-do list. I am focused on things of me. I don’t have time to stop and notice others because I am looking inward instead of outward.

Are you like that too?

All it costs to leave a legacy of caring is a little time and kindness: time to pause and notice people. The worried person in the doctor’s office, the impatient person in the grocery line, the angry person at the mall – all are God’s children, and all have a story to tell IF we pause, listen and show kindness.

In this crazy, impersonal, cynical and self-centered world, it is important for us to make an intentional effort to touch the lives of others. That is what Jesus tells us to do. When in doubt, listen for the Holy Spirit to nudge you and stay alert for opportunities to care.

Be a bright spot for Jesus. See those you pass in the goings and comings of your day. You might be an answer to a prayer. They might just be your new best friend. And for sure you will bring a smile to God’s face.

Live to leave a legacy of caring.

Hugs and Blessings,


Dear Lord, there are so many hurting people in Your world today. All of us have burdens, fears and concerns tucked away inside of us. Please bless me with Your discernment and Your compassion to see everyone I pass as Your beloved child. Give me the patience and the love to pause and bless them with Your kindness. Help me to leave a legacy of caring. Amen.



What legacy are you building now by the way you are living your days?

Think about this. Add your thoughts to the blog comments if you are willing to share. We all need fresh inspiration, but we need cautions as well. Legacies can be both positive and negative!


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